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Marriage in D.C.: Maybe by Thanksgiving


Washington, D.C., councilman David Catania announced Thursday that he would introduce legislation on October 6 to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation's capital.

Catania is joined by nine other members from the 13-member panel, projecting passage of the legislation. Mayor Adrian Fenty has pledged to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. According to TheWashington Post, the fate of the legislation could be decided by Thanksgiving.

"We are going to do it now," Catania told a gathered crowd of about 200 people including many gay rights advocates. "We are going to do it now, not for ourselves, but for the young people who are 20 years old, 16 years old, 13 years old."

Catania also said that he's been in touch with President Barack Obama, and while the president does not personally endorse same-sex marriage, he is supportive of Catania's bill.

"We are not asking the White House to change its position on marriage equality -- the discussion with the White House is about supporting local home rule," Catania said, according to TheWashington Post. "Everyone knows where the president is on this issue, but we also know the president has high regard for home rule and local autonomy. And on those grounds we believe the White House should work with us in defending the actions of the local government."

The councilman added in a statement released on Thursday that the legislation would "not infringe on the religious freedoms enjoyed by District residents, churches, and clergy. The bill amends the District's statutory eligibility requirements for civil marriage only, and specifically provides that no church or member of the clergy shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage that runs counter to their religious beliefs or teachings."

The U.S. Congress does have the right to review all laws passed in the District, which could put federal lawmakers in the position of legislating on marriage equality this fall. According to WAMU, an NBC affiliate in Washington, Congress restricted the city's attempt to legalize domestic partnerships in 1992.

In May, the council voted 12-1 to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside of the District.

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